Give Up on Construction of New US Military Base in Okinawa


10-13-09, 9:10 am

Original source: Akahata

Okinawa's Environmental Impact Assessment Council has advised Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu to request that the Defense Ministry recompile its documents laying out methods for the environmental impact assessment regarding the plan to construct a U.S. air base in the Henoko district of Nago City for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Council calls for the ministry's methods for environment impact assessment to be reviewed.

The national government must take Okinawans' opposition to the plan and the latest council report seriously and refrain from pressing the local government to accept any illegally compiled environmental impact assessment for the construction of the new U.S. base.

The report even suggests cancellation of the air base construction

The Defense Ministry said that the environmental impact of the air base construction will be small, but the Council has expressed a view to the contrary. The ministry must accept the Council's opinion as an important and valid criticism.

If the Defense Ministry refuses to review its flawed preparatory documents for the environmental impact assessment, it will go against what the Environmental Impact Assessment Law is intended to do and will only further infuriate the public.

Also, the Council report points out that the Defense Ministry's preparatory documents are 'inadequate' and that a reexamination is necessary. It even states that the Council won't hesitate to call for the air base project to be suspended unless the environmental impact assessment is properly assessed.

The Council had to make in-depth criticism of the ministry plan because the documents of the environmental impact assessment methods were too inadequate to be put into practice with just minor changes.

The preparatory document, for instance, provided no answer to people's anxiety about heavy noise pollution. The planned new base will be a state-of-the-art base in the Asia-Pacific Region under the U.S. military strategy of first strike. Various military aircraft, including helicopters and transport planes, will frequently fly to and from the new base as well as the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, and the vertical take-off and landing Osprey aircraft which isn't deployed even at the Futenma base will be deployed to the new base. It is obvious that a large number of people living near the new base will suffer from heavy noise pollution and will be exposed to the danger of plane crashes.

The preparatory document stated that U.S. military aircraft mainly fly over the sea and merely fly over the residential area for a short period of time, but this is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Okinawa. The U.S. force's flight-training exercises cover all directions, and military planes fly to training facilities in Okinawa Prefecture. In addition, the late night and early morning flights always become a matter of deep concern. It is unacceptable that in order to avoid Okinawan people's objections, the Defense Ministry makes no assessment of U.S. military aircraft noise pollution.

The environmental impact assessment of how the base construction would affect the endangered dugong was also carried out in an inaccurate manner. Without conducting a multi-year environmental impact assessment study on the dugong as called for by the Okinawan governor, the preparatory document stated that dugong 'don't use' sea grass beds in the sea off the Henoko District. The panel's report raised the validity of this assertion and urged a resurvey.

The preparatory document was drawn up based on the assessment method document which contained numerous flaws. So, the details of the preparatory document involve sloppy research procedures and the document unworthy of serious consideration because it does not even mention the serious issue of the construction of a helipad and a wharf for large warships. The government should give up forcibly imposing this faulty assessment which is both illegal and inaccurate.

Removing military bases is essential

Okinawans want 'islands of peace without military bases.' The new base construction imposes another burden on the people. The aim of the new base construction is to strengthen the U.S. military presence in Japan.

Now is the time to force a reduction and eventual removal of U.S. military bases by revising the U.S. military realignment plan. There is no reason for continuing to accept U.S. bases on Japanese soil.